Pinch-hit appearance encouraging

Pinch-hit appearance encouraging

CLEVELAND -- Just three days after straining his left hamstring and getting pulled from the season opener, Victor Martinez was back on the field Thursday.

Martinez just wasn't in the field defensively. He pinch-hit for Jason Michaels in the eighth inning of the Tribe's 2-1 loss to the White Sox and flew out in his lone at-bat.

But the fact that Martinez was able to pinch-hit speaks to how quickly he's recovered from what had looked to be a potentially costly injury.

"We're very happy with his progress," manager Eric Wedge said, "considering how we felt when we saw him the other day."

Martinez will be an early arrival to Oakland's McAfee Coliseum on Friday, when the Indians open a six-game road trip on the West Coast, so that he can get treatment on the leg. The Indians will then decide whether he is ready to start behind the plate.

The Indians might opt to give Martinez one more day of rest, especially considering Paul Byrd will get the starting nod. Backup catcher Kelly Shoppach caught all of Byrd's starts in 2007.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.